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News for Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Opinion — Reflections
Removing the “Stuff" Out of Your Life
By Lonnie Wilkey
5/20/2014
editor, Baptist and Reflector

A few weeks ago (in the April 30 issue), I wrote about changes that are underway for the Baptist and Reflector.

Honestly, those changes are occurring quicker than I imagined, but once the pain of change is over, I think it will prove to be a great move for everyone involved with the Baptist and Reflector — from me and our staff to our most importance resource, our readers.

With what I wrote on April 30 combined with the well-written news story on page 1 of this issue by Linda Lawson Still, I think the reasons for the changes, which officially begin with our June 4 issue, are obvious. We will continue to provide Tennessee Baptists a quality newspaper. As long as I am editor, we will not shift from our commitment of “Telling the story of Tennessee Baptists.”

I would encourage everyone to read the column on page 4 by Randy C. Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

He makes an excellent case for the changes, comparing it to the pruning of a tree. Pruning, indeed, is necessary for additional growth.

Trees, of course, can’t talk, but I imagine if they could, they would say “ouch” when the limb is cut off. I will say “ouch” for the Baptist and Reflector, but I also anticipate what the future holds in store for your Baptist state paper.

Chris Turner, director of communications for the TBC and group leader for the Communications Team, of which the B&R is part of now, has said to me many times, “I believe the best days lie ahead for the B&R.” I believe that as well.

But other changes are in store for not only the B&R staff, but for every employee who works out of the Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board headquarters.

Since 1969, the TBC has been housed at 5001 Maryland Way in Brentwood. The building is located in the heart of one of the fastest growing areas in not only Middle Tennessee, but the state as well.

When the facility was constructed and then dedicated in 1969, the land was surrounded by a huge horse farm. The location for Tennessee Baptists’ headquarters at one time could have been termed “peaceful and serene.”

Those two words certainly don’t describe Brentwood today. “Organized chaos,” especially on the roadways, might be a better term.

Well, we are moving away from the hustle and bustle of Franklin Road and Maryland Way, although we won’t be far away.

The Executive Board is relocating this week to a temporary location off Old Hickory Boulevard in Brentwood.

Distance doesn’t really matter when you’re moving. A move is a move. And moving certainly can be painful, especially for a self-avowed “pack rat” who has a bad habit of not throwing things away.

For months now, we have been preparing for this week.

We were told early on in the process that everyone must downsize because we are moving from a 88,000 square feet facility into one with about 21,000 square feet.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that things that were “out of sight, out of mind” at the Maryland Way site will probably not fit into our new office space.

Every employee, including myself, has been going through their “stuff,” trying to determine what can be discarded and what is absolutely necessary for the ministry that we do.

It hasn’t been easy for this pack rat, but I made a conscious decision to get rid of things I absolutely don’t need.

You would be amazed at things I had pushed into the back corner of a closet or storage cabinet and didn’t even know it existed.

And in my desk, I think I kept every pen I ever owned (or at least the ones I had not lost while crisscrossing the state writing news and feature stories). It really did no good to keep the pens. Most of them dried out and don’t function anymore.

As I packed, I made two general observations about “stuff.”

(1) There is a difference between things of value and stuff. Things that have value are missed. Stuff can disappear and we probably will never notice. Many times, we don’t even know all the stuff that we have. And once we rediscover the stuff, we don’t even remember why we kept it. Matthew 6:19-21 is a good reminder to not store our treasures (stuff) on earth. What really matters are the treasures that we store up in heaven. As verse 21 reminds us, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (KJV).

(2) Stuff robs us of our focus. This week has been a whirlwind as we have tried to balance doing our job and getting this issue out and finishing up our packing. If I had less stuff, I could have been through much sooner and spent more time on what matters. Stuff doesn’t have to be objects. Stuff can be anything (thoughts, emotions, etc.) that keeps us from doing what God wants us to do. God called me to be a Christian journalist and writer. He has called me to tell His stories through the people we call Tennessee Baptists. I cannot let “stuff” keep me from that task.

As Christians, we can get waylaid by the “stuff” in our life. And, Satan is the master of stuff. He gives us stuff in ample supply to distract us from serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is imperative that we keep the stuff out of our lives in order to be better servants for Christ. Take an inventory of your life. You may be amazed at the stuff you have accumulated and no longer need.

Just get rid of it. Life is simpler without all the stuff.

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